2 November 2014

CURRENTLY READING: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Rest assured: I was always planning to read this novel.

I knew from an early age that it was a literary classic, revolutionary in the world of twentieth-century literature, published when the American civil rights movement was taking its highest speeds . . .

I always planned to read this book someday, but the reason why I did not read it when I was younger was because I knew I would be required to read it in my tenth-grade English class. I figured, if I was going to read it anyway, that I should save it for later and spend spare time in my childhood reading other fiction books that intrigued me. (This is also the case with The Great Gatsby, some Shakespeare, and other pieces of literature.)

Image via English with Latini.
I'm currently about one-third of the way through To Kill a Mockingbird (roughly, right after Miss Maudie's house catches fire). I have been reading for about two-and-a-half weeks.

To be brutally honest, I didn't very much like the beginning chapters. They were somewhat uninteresting to me, and the lengthy sentence structures were tedious and off-putting. I got a bit confused with the identities of certain characters, and with the book's chronology, since it is written using a flashback method.

I plan to keep an open mind, however, partially because I know how much this book has been admired and acclaimed. I admit, as well, that it is getting progressively interesting now that I'm in the middle of the book and not stuck at the beginning. My favourite characters so far are Calpurnia, and especially Atticus.

Before my English teacher assigned my class this book, she instructed us to conduct background research; the most prominent parallels (and there are many) between Lee and her novel relate to Lee's historical ties to the Southern United States -- she is the descendant of Robert E. Lee, a general during the American Civil War -- and the connections between her family and her characters. Atticus Finch was based on Lee's own father, which makes me envy her, because I'm beginning to adore Atticus in such a way that I wish he was my father.

I like Calpurnia because of her disposition. She is straightforward, no-nonsense, very strict and sometimes hostile, but she does care about Scout and Jem very much. She is their maternal figure, and the fact that they and Atticus respect and trust her proves to be a very big deal in the United States's pre-Civil Rights Act era.

As I mentioned, I'm trying to keep an open mind. The book is becoming more suspenseful and captivating, and I am growing more hopeful about it.

(Psst . . . my real-life friends run a bookish Tumblr blog that is decorated with To Kill a Mockingbird details. Link: One Kind of Folks Folks)

Have you ever read Mockingbird before? If not, do you plan to in the future? What's your favourite "classic" novel? I'm super curious -- let me know in the comments!

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